Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

Tips for riding RSVP solo

I should begin by saying that I don't actually recommend riding this route solo if you have the option of participating in the official RSVP ride. Obviously, when riding it solo you miss out on the ride support, the company of other riders, and the experience of crossing an actual finish line. A more serious problem is that, since the route map is only published for the sake of the official RSVP riders, an errata sheet containing corrections and re-routes for the printed route map is never published: for any detours caused by road work (for example) you have to depend on RSVP on-road marks which are easy to miss and which may no longer even be visible by the time of your trip. But, if you're still determined to do this, the following would be my suggestions.

Pre-Ride Considerations

  1. Plan your ride for the earliest possible date after the official RSVP ride. [Note: Surplus copies of the printed map are available at the Cascade Bicycle Club office after the RSVP ride, but they're the same as the PDF version available on its web site.]
  2. Bring along either a GPS unit loaded with up-to-date street information, or else full-detail printed maps covering the entire route.
  3. Don't forget your passport or whatever other form of identification can serve in its place (it is no longer the case that you can cross the Canadian border with an ordinary driver's license and birth certificate).

General Considerations

  1. Keep a sharp eye out for any "Dan Henry" on-road marks which indicate re-routes (i.e. which indicate a path you must follow different from that on your printed route map): the ones I saw used the same color as the on-road marks which follow the official route, except they either used a circle in place of the apple or maple leaf, included the text "RSVP," or consisted merely of an arrow.
  2. Don't panic if you encounter a typo on the official route map. They exist, but I only noticed two, and only one of them was serious (at the 77.3 mile mark after crossing the bridge if the current construction-related detour is no longer necessary then you turn right at the end of the bridge rather than at one of the subsequent stop lights).

First Day Considerations

  1. Get the earliest start you can: there are no street lights for most of the twisty, hilly portion of Chuckanut Drive, and you don't want to still be on it after sunset. However, make sure your tail light works, and your headlight is fully charged, just in case.
  2. Until the Burke-Gilman Trail from NE 145th St to Logboom Park opens again at the end of this year, you may wish to start your ride at the Burke-Gilman Trail entry point across from the Kenmore Park and Ride, rather than the University of Washington E1 parking lot (which was the official starting point this year). Note that Sound Transit bus 522 can get you to the Kenmore Park and Ride as early as 6:06am.
  3. The Motel 6 in Bellingham had the lowest rates I could find ($49), and is along the official route. They will honor requests that your room be on the first floor (i.e. so you don't have to take your bike up any stairs) if they can, so be sure to make this request.

Second Day Considerations

  1. If you're staying at the HI Vancouver Central Hostel (which at $35 Canadian is the most economical option), tell them you need bicycle storage: they have a basement area where it can be safely kept until your departure. You can also keep it there between your 11am checkout and the time you need to leave that evening to catch your train.
  2. There's probably no need change any US currency to Canadian currency, or withdraw funds in Canadian currency, if you have a bank card which can function as a Visa or MasterCard.

Departure Considerations

  1. I personally found the SkyTrain too crowded to comfortably take my bike on it, at least at the time I would have needed to use it to catch the evening Amtrak train. In my opinion you're better off either using a TransLink city bus (they all have front-mounted bicycle racks), or else just riding your bicycle to the Amtrak station.
  2. Make your Amtrak Cascades 517 reservation as early as possible to be sure you have a seat, and don't forget to indicate you'll have a bicycle (cost is $38 plus $5 for the bicycle).
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